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Update on Russia’s Pork Import Ban: USDA Seeking Clarification on Eligibility of Offal, Fat

As we noted last week, Russia issued a decree, effective Aug. 7, banning imports of many agricultural products from countries that have imposed economic sanctions on Russia as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The list of affected countries includes the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway and the 28 members of the European Union. The ban is to be in effect for a period of one year, although Russian officials have left open the possibility of it being lifted earlier.

While the ban includes pork and pork products, a potentially important detail of Russia’s decree is that although it covers most pork HS product codes, others appear to have been excluded from the scope of the ban.

The products that are definitely covered are:

0203: chilled/frozen pork (accounting for the majority of U.S. exports to Russia)
0210: salted/in brine/cured etc. pork
1601: sausages

Product codes that were not included in the list that was attached to the Russian government’s decree include:

0206: pork offal
0209: pork fat
0504: stomachs/intestines/casings
16024: prepared/preserved pork

At one time, the United States shipped significant volumes of pork offal to Russia – about 30,000 metric tons (mt) per year in 2009-2010. Russia’s imported pork fat market, which was historically dominated by the EU, had been in the range of 260,000-290,000 mt per year, but imports have plummeted this year without access to EU product. Russia imported small volumes of pork fat from Canada (2,404 mt) and the United States (2,022 mt) in the first half of this year. USMEF is working with U.S. trade officials to get clarification of whether pork offal and pork fat are eligible for Russia. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the status of these items, the Export Library currently does not allow for certification of any pork or pork products for Russia.

Pork stomachs, intestines, casings and prepared/preserved products were already ineligible for Russia prior to the Aug. 7 Export Library update. In the past, the United States has not exported these items to Russia in any significant quantity. We will report further details on the status of U.S. pork’s eligibility for Russia as they become available from USDA, and exporters may contact Cheyenne Dixon or call 303-623-6328 with any questions.

With U.S. and Canadian pork out of the market, and EU pork already absent since January due to African swine fever, Russia must now rely almost entirely on Brazil and Chile for its pork imports, which were already running about 40 percent below last year’s low levels. In an interesting turn of events this week, the Russian news outlet Interfax reported that Russia plans to begin importing pork from China. No details of this plan have yet been released.

While China is the world’s fifth-largest pork exporter (behind the EU, U.S., Canada and Brazil), this ranking is somewhat misleading. China’s exports in the first half of this year totaled 97,366 mt, but nearly 60 percent of these exports went to Hong Kong and the volume exported represents a very small fraction of China’s total pork production.